Red Sox Notes: Week of August 13th
By Brian Phair
Happy Friday the 13th everyone! The entire 2010 season has felt like one large Friday the 13th for the Sox, who added another member of the roster to the DL this week. There is some promising positive news surrounding Dustin Pedroia and the Sox have gotten a lift from the main player they received in trade deadline deals, Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Sox also made a splash by bringing in Carlos Delgado to platoon with Mike Lowell at first base once he is ready. With just 7ish weeks remaining in the regular season, there is plenty of time for the Sox to duck into the playoffs and they made a few steps towards that goal by winning come big games this past week. Without further ado, I bring you Red Sox Notes for this past week.
After being acquired by the Red Sox from the Texas Rangers at the trade deadline, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was expected to remain in the minor leagues for a bit longer to get his bearings and prove to the Sox management that he was ready for the bigs again. Circumstances this past week forced Kevin Cash to the DL with a hamstring issue, opening up the backup catcher slot for Salty. In 2 appearances (1 start) this week, Salty went 2 for 4 with 2 doubles and a run to help the Sox to a much-needed victory against AL East foe the Toronto Blue Jays. The most promising sign was that Salty threw out Aaron Hill trying to steal 2nd base, showing the team that his arm is as strong as ever. A Red Sox catcher throwing out a potential base-stealer? That never happens…
Last Saturday, the Red Sox made a splash by signing veteran 1st baseman Carlos Delgado for the remainder of the season. Delgado underwent hip surgery and has missed all of 2010, but is currently playing in the minors and could be ready in a week or so to make his Red Sox debut. Delgado is a powerful lefty bat who would likely platoon with Mike Lowell at 1st base to give him some days to rest. Both Delgado and Lowell will need 1 or 2 days off a week, so having the 2 would allow Francona to match-up with lefty/righty pitchers and will give the Sox a great pinch hitter off the bench, regardless of which one is starting.
Some of you may remember the name Adalaberto Ibarra from a few months ago when his name first surfaced as a young lefty catcher out of Cuba that the Sox were trying to sign. After a long battle of trying to get the correct clearances and approvals, Ibarra finally signed a deal with the Sox. Ibarra is a talented lefty catcher who according to many sources has an extremely advanced bat for a 23-year old, but his catching ability to unclear at this point. Ibarra joins the list of Cuban immigrants to sign with the Red Sox this past year or two, a pipeline that could really help the Sox a few years down the road.
After being converted into a reliever in the minor leagues just a week or so ago, Felix Doubront got an unexpected early call-up to the big leagues. After Okajima went down with a right hamstring strain, Doubront got the call and has since appeared in 2 games, pitching 2.1 innings and allowing just 1 hit (a solo home run) and striking out 4 batters. Doubront is an improvement over Okajima’s inconsistent and poor performances this season, so despite the injury, the move actually benefits the Sox in the long run.
Just when the Sox injury list shrinks, more injuries rise to the surface. On Friday of last week, just after I published Red Sox Notes, the Sox announced Hideki Okajima had a right hamstring strain and would be going to the DL. His injury does not seem major, but it allowed the Sox to bring up Felix Doubront and give another lefty a try in the ‘pen. Okajima has been terrible in 2010 so far, having a 5.85 era in 40 appearances with a 4-3 record and having blown all 4 save opportunities he faced. Okajima began a throwing program on August 10th, but don’t expect him to be rushed back in Doubront is pitching well.
The latest of the Sox injuries comes from backup catcher Kevin Cash. Following in Okajima’s footsteps, Cash strained his hamstring during the series in New York, but wasn’t placed on the DL until Wednesday, with the retroactive date set for Monday. Cash did not appear to be in much pain, as he was still on the field playing catch on the day he was added to the DL. Cash may or may not have his sot in the lineup back when he returns depending on the progression of Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
The best news of all is that Dustin Pedroia is just days away from returning to action. After being cleared by his doctors to run, Pedroia was in good shape and will be making an appearance or two for Pawtucket this weekend with a projected return to the Sox lineup on Tuesday when the Sox begin their home stretch against the Los Angeles Angels. Pedroia has had a few minor setbacks in his recovery because he has been a bit overzealous in trying to do too much too early. I know, I know. It sounds nothing like Pedroia to try and do too much too soon, right? Either way, his return is right around the corner.
The Red Sox Captain, Jason Varitek, is also nearing a return from the DL within the next few weeks or so. Tek too batting practice this week and just today was working on jumping out of the crouch with his broken foot. He is likely not going to be back until late August or maybe early September, but will be welcomed back with open arms for sure.
The news on Mike Cameron is more positive than last week, because he has been taking some batting practice and working to see if he can eliminate the pain in his abdominal. Cameron is expected to return this season, but they are going to take his recovery extremely slow given the amount of pain he was playing through before going on the DL.
Sox Cut into AL East and AL Wild Card Deficit
Over the past week or so, the Red Sox have gotten some big wins and find themselves just 4 games back in the AL Wild Card and 6 games back in the AL East. The Sox face a tough test in the Texas Rangers in TX this weekend, but are hoping to take at least 2 out of 3 and then head home for a 9-game home stand. There is belief in the Sox locker room that they can comeback as long as they play hard each night, because they have the talent and are getting more back.
Sox Get Embarassed in Toronto, Pap Blows 6th of the Year
On the verge of a sweep of the Blue Jays in Toronto, the Sox brought in Jonathan Papelbon to close out a 2-run game in the 9th inning on Thursday. Papelbon imploded and had to be removed from the game in a bases-loaded, 1 out situation for Daniel Bard, who allowed a walk-off sac fly. The game was difficult to swallow, but watching Jonathan Papelbon blow his 6th save of the year, a career high, was even more painful given the Sox 3-game winning streak and their need for momentum down the stretch.